Tag Archives: self care

Touch Service #selfcare

How often do you got to get manicures, massages, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, spa days? How often do you touch yourself purposefully, rub your neck, your legs, your feet, put on oils or lotions? Are you someone who is comfortable being touched by people? How aware are you of the importance of touch in your life? How comfortable are you with being touched and touching others?

This is something I’ve thought a lot about on and off for years.  I am a touch positive person, but I am also aware of how unfortunately, disturbed and sick people use touch to violate the trust of others, leading to trauma, isolation, repression, depression and worse. It’s fucked up. Because touch is incredibly important and key to our survival and a sense of calm, safety and energetic balance and joy.

science-of-hugs

In humans, oxytocin is thought to be released during hugging, touching, and orgasm in both genders. In the brain, oxytocin is involved in social recognition and bonding, and may be involved in the formation of trust between people and generosity. Oxytocin first became of interest to researchers when they discovered that breastfeeding women are calmer when exercising and experiencing stress than moms who were bottle-feeding. It is just one part of the important, complex neurochemical system in our bodies that helps us adapt to emotional situations.

God knows we need all the stress releasing we can get in the toxic climate we currently find ourselves living through at the moment.

Manicurist Hands Doing Hand Massage With Cream

I often wonder about people who provide services that require them to touch people on a daily basis. Like sometimes I’ll be having my hands massaged by a manicurist and sometimes I will allow myself to fully relax and not be self-conscious about being touched by a stranger. This is easier when the person acknowledges me with eye contact or smiles and is attentive, as opposed to someone who is massaging my hands while they look away or are engaged in conversation with another co-worker. When the person is touching me but looking away I get the sense that they have become detached from the importance of being present when providing this service.

But it’s hard for me to judge them. Because I don’t know what this kind of job is like. I don’t ever expect the woman who massages and scrubs my feet during a pedicure to stare lovingly into my eyes. I’m just grateful that she’s handling my feet. LOL!!

I don’t know if this is something  I could do effectively everyday. But I do know that it is important, that is something I notice whenever I am paying to be touched for grooming or wellness purposes.

I really truly appreciate professionals in the field of massage and I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of having very capable and skilled people work on me. I don’t take it lightly. Because touch as a form of therapy is a deeply powerful, sensual and connective thing. It takes skill, professionalism, intelligence and maturity to provide people with healing in this way while also making them feel comfortable and safe.

I’m a big fan of hugs on a personal level, though I recognize that not everyone is. My theory about people who are adverse to touch is that they may be more sensitive to it than most, perhaps hypersensitive and require specific forms of touch from specific sources.

I love hugs so much that I have mental hug catalogs. There are about two or three people in my top 5 list of great huggers at the moment. My husband and I both agree that some people are just better at hugging than others and that weak hugs are a total waste of time and energy. LOL! My husband happens to be number 1 on that list. His hugging, holding and touching skills are part of what drew me to him initially. I’d never met someone before who touched me casually in a way that made me feel as if I’d known him and loved him forever.

Did you know there are people who are professional cuddlers? Yeah, I even found out about “Cuddle Parties” from a friend years ago. LOL! I don’t know about all that but I do know that services like these are symptomatic of a society that is dire need of feeling connected in an age where social media has fragmented and isolated us in ways never experienced before, ways that allow us to be both closer and yet more estranged and segregated than ever.

Touch helps not only to release stress reducing hormones but also to shift energy that may be stagnant or pent up. The human experience is one of cycle expression. To reap the full benefits of being alive, we need to be able to healthily shift, change and evolve energy in order to process, unload and regenerate so that we can create, share, serve and receive.

Here’s to making sure you’re getting the most out of healthy touch positive experiences in your life on a daily basis. Nothing in social media can replace the power of touching and being touched by people who makes you feel safe, comfortable and supported.

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Silliness Makes Me Happy

My dad gets all the credit.

He is a seriously wonderful father who is also prone to silliness and has been since I was born. There was a lot of laughter in my family growing up, a lot of clowning and jokes and silliness. My dad was the one who had us watching the Marx Brothers, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder, Flip Wilson, SNL and many other truly ridiculous human beings. Just silly people who made me laugh until my stomach hurt. It cultivated a special place in my heart for comedy and comedians in general.

My dad used to pick me up, dance me around the living room and ask me in a snobby British accent, “Are you having a lovely time dahling?” And I would look at him and say “No.” We both fell apart laughing. I was aware of the irony of this routine and I enjoyed playing his straight man.

Sometimes there’s just nothing like laughter to diffuse darkness, to bring people together, to clear the air, to begin healing or just to take a break from the impending doom that hangs over each day in this diabolical administration.

My husband and I have been watching “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” on Netflix, a concept show created by Jerry Seinfeld which I originally thought was kind of an obnoxious vanity project. But the the thing is, when you’re as funny as Seinfeld, you could literally pick up comedians in a cheese bus and it would still be hilarious as long there was a camera around.

It’s exactly what it is. Comedians are an odd bunch of people who really only like hanging out with other comedians and this is that. Candid, coffee, cars, comics.

I like to laugh.  I need to laugh. I like to share laughter and I have always loved making others laugh which for a woman has always been a harder road as a profession. Tracee Ellis Ross has been one of my favorite silly people for the longest because she doesn’t let vanity and patriarchy stand in the way of getting a laugh. She is legit crazy and she utilizes that crazy in the most disarming ways. She also slays as a fashion icon. Those qualities in a woman, let alone a Black woman are very rarely celebrated together as strengths. To me they are personal goals.

For me silliness is fuel. If I can’t make fun of myself and situations that are often taken way too seriously, I often feel like I’m perpetrating the fraud of looking like I have a clue about what’s going on or that I am actually as cool as I occasionally appear to be, that I am not full of chaos, rage, doubt, sadness, loneliness and questions.

We are all performing in some type of drag most of the time, performing gender, beauty, respectability. When humor is used to crack facades and address the need for them at the same time, it’s a win win. Comedians provide a public service. They live to make us laugh and I live to laugh.

I need to laugh. Its part of my self care routine now more than ever.

Team Urban Eve

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I was out and about this weekend running errands and attending to my regular self care when it occurred to me that the women who provide indispensable services to me on a regular basis are some amazing women. And I have selected them especially not only because of excellence with which they provide these services but because of the love, warmth, support, and receptivity that come with it.

You know what I mean.

We pay for services all the time but if we have a pleasant experience, a deeply beneficial exchange with the person who delivers those services, we go as much for that loving, supportive inspiring energy as for the service itself.

My therapist is a woman who just rocks. Like, I love her! She challenges me, makes me feel safe, helps me to be more accountable for the goals I set and much more.  Her role in helping me in my journey towards helping me peel away the layers of my own psyche to reveal my purpose in this life has been indispensable.

There’s my brow technician in Chelsea. Unless I am really desperate, there is only one woman I want to do my brows. She’s the only one who makes my sparsely growing non-thick brows work. She just makes it work. And she is always, warm and sweet and hospitable and just makes me feel dope. I took my mom to see her the last time she visited me and if you knew me well enough, you would know how huge that is. If I’m taking mom to meet my brow tech, I love my brow tech. And mom approved. Mom approved.

There’s my weekly yoga instructor, an independent contractor who has been coming to my workplace to give staff yoga classes since 2009! I’m not saying I will never take yoga with anyone else and I certainly have before. But I have never in my life taken yoga consistently the way I have with Sara. It’s more than just the yoga. It’s Sara. It’s her energy. It’s her way of explaining and executing moves, of moving with us, of challenging us, correcting us, making us laugh, keeping it light but also as she says, respecting the divine in all of us and calling attention to the ways in which yoga is not just about moving the body but also the spirit, about accessing the infinite within. I need that. So I show up as often as I can.

As I adjust to my new life in Inwood I have seen several cute nail places in the neighborhood but in my mind I know there is still only one nail salon that gets my money. Bed of Nails Harlem is not just a nail salon to me. I go there as much to chit chat with my nail tech and other ladies in the shop while sipping a complimentary tea or Bellini as to get a set of amazing color changing gel done on my fingers. The women there do amazing nails as well as provide a warm, and comfortable space where you are encouraged to linger, sit, talk and converse while music plays. It’s a class act. And I am a person who is slow to warm up to people, but once I feel like I can let down my guard, I’m inquisitive, quick to laugh, learn, talk, teach, and take mental notes. I knew from the day I walked through those doors that I would return again and again.

Because, as women of color we often struggle to find spaces in which to engage with images of themselves that are not marginalized, destructive and stereotypical it is extremely important for us to carefully select other women who care for us in ways that are particular to serving our needs based on the goals we have set and the ways in which we wish to meet, influence and engage with the world.

Gathering in spaces regularly to get  pampered, fed, educated, mentally and spiritually stimulated, all the while learning and discovering things you never would have anywhere else is an absolute necessity.  My girl at SoulSistah4real always reminds me that in ancient times it was our divine right as women to make time for ourselves in this way, for self care, for emotional, mental and spiritual care.

It still is. And it is up to us to make that happen not only for ourselves but for each other.